August 5, 2020
Field Notes is a collection of articles curated by students and teachers from around the world detailing their academic experiences.
Nearing the end of my sophomore year, I was rolling with anxiousness and stress, fearful about what type of insurmountable work I’d be met with in my Junior year.
I was a sophomore that was habitually surrounded by upperclassmen in my classrooms, clubs, and out of school extracurriculars. Juniors around me moaned and groaned about the workload, the stress, AP Exams, extracurriculars, and most importantly of all, quickly approaching college applications.
Once I began my Junior year, however, it wasn’t completely what I expected it to be.
It’s true, that as juniors, most likely you will be taking the heaviest course load of your life. However because of the difficulty, it is a time that many people start reflecting on their reasons for pursuing a specific field or subject--ultimately nurturing an understanding of oneself. This is exactly what happened to me.
Junior year felt as if I had been thrown into a pool with piranhas -- without knowing how to swim.
From the first day, we reviewed material we learned over the summer. I was shocked by the rapid pace of the class, unlike my semi-relaxed underclassmen years.
Besides my school work becoming extremely fast-paced, I had to figure out a way to balance my studies with my extracurriculars, an issue that many other juniors struggled with. I dealt with this seemingly unsolvable situation in multiple ways.
In regards to my school work, I diligently kept a meticulous planner that noted all of my assignments and upcoming tests. The satisfaction that I received when crossing off a homework assignment after completion is still one of my favorite feelings to this day--and is probably one of the most stress relieving.
In regards to extracurriculars, I found that with the added coursework, I had to drop some clubs that I participated in years prior. I dedicated my time to those that were most important to me: Debate Team, Key Club, Social Action Club, and Girls Who Code. Some were more intensive than others, but I managed to juggle the clubs I deemed the most important with the numerous AP classes I was enrolled in.
Despite the fact that Junior year was the most academically extenuating and stressful year of my life, the achievements and self-exploration that came with it are so much more worth it. I received an award given to women interested in computing, I got to visit Stanford University under a tech-oriented program for high school girls, and I have managed to maintain decent grades.
The self-exploration most often came from failure. In my first year of varsity debate, I did not qualify for the top eight in the state, something I was able to do as a novice freshman and Junior-Varsity as a sophomore.
Many wonder how this is a high point in my high school career. It was because I was not utterly devastated that I did not make top eight at state. This, I find is an accomplishment, because I recognized that I was truly debating not for the “clout” but because I genuinely enjoyed it as an activity, rather than something I can simply put on my college transcript. This is the most important realization I made my Junior year-- that genuinity in your interests and activities are one hundred times more important than awards you list on your transcript.
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